Pennsylvania Court Overturns ‘Unconstitutional’ Mail-In Voting Law

A court in Pennsylvania has ruled that the state’s expansive two-year-old mail-in voting law is unconstitutional.

The statewide court overturned the state’s voting law on Friday.

The law, allowing more people to vote using less-secure mail-in ballots, was passed in 2019 by the Republican-controlled legislature.

President Donald Trump responded to the news by putting out a statement.

“Big news out of Pennsylvania, great patriotic spirit is developing at a level that nobody thought possible,” Trump said.

“Make America Great Again.”

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which will trigger a stay on the order and leave the law in place until the high court makes a decision.

The court wrote:

“AND NOW, this 28th day of January, 2022, it is ORDERED that the application for summary relief filed by Petitioner Doug McLinko in the above- captioned matter is GRANTED.

“The application for summary relief filed by Respondent Veronica Degraffenreid, in her official capacity as Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is DENIED.”

“Additionally, the preliminary objections filed by Veronica Degraffenreid, in her official capacity as Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of State, and the preliminary objections filed by the Democratic National Committee and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party are DISMISSED as moot.”

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From The AP:

Every Republican lawmaker, except one, voted for the bill in a deal with Wolf, who had sought the mail-in voting provision.

In exchange, Wolf agreed to get rid of the straight-ticket voting option that Republicans had sought as a way to protect their suburban candidates from an anti-Trump wave in 2020′s election.

The Constitution does not explicitly say that the Legislature cannot extend absentee voting to others.

However, Republican challengers say the constitution intended that absentee voting be strictly limited, citing a passage that says voters must live in an election district for at least 60 days where they “shall offer to vote.”

In the opinion, the three Republican judges agreed, saying that passage had been cited in two prior state Supreme Court decisions to invalidate laws passed in 1839 and 1923 to expand absentee voting.

The dissenting Democrats on the panel say a separate provision of the constitution empowered lawmakers to provide no-excuse mail-in voting by law.

That provision says “All elections by the citizens shall be by ballot or by such other method as may be prescribed by law.”

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

“No-excuse mail-in voting makes the exercise of the franchise more convenient and has been used four times in the history of Pennsylvania,”  the court wrote in its opinion.

“Approximately 1.38 million voters have expressed their interest in voting by mail permanently. If presented to the people, a constitutional amendment… is likely to be adopted.

“But a constitutional amendment must be presented to the people” before legislation like Act 77 can take effect.

The decision was three to two, with three Republican judges striking the law over the dissent of two Democratic ones.

The law, which passed with widespread bipartisan support in 2019, became politically toxic on the right after Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Pennsylvania.

Some conservatives blamed Trump’s loss on expanded mail voting and criticized Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration’s implementation of the law, saying the executive branch overstepped its authority.

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By David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer who specializes in political commentary and world affairs. He's been writing professionally since 2014.

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